Ears on the Odyssey

Review: Mango, Abuela, and Me

Emily Calkins describes the detailed authenticity in the audio version of this warmhearted bilingual  picturebook.

Mango,Abuela, Me

Narrated by a real family – parents Rosi and Brian and their daughter Alisa – Mango, Abuela, and Me is a beautiful story of a granddaughter and grandmother bridging their language difference with a little help from a talkative parrot. All three narrators give engaging and animated performances. Their voices are modulated for the characters’ ages so that the young protagonist, Mia, sounds both natural and childlike. They also move easily between the text’s Spanish and English words, pronouncing them with accents that are appropriate to their characters. For example, Mia speak unaccented English, but when Abuela’s language skills improve, and she begins to speak more English words, she still speaks with a heavy accent. The story, which has language and speaking to each other at heart, is a natural fit for an audiobook, and the Amadors have also narrated a Spanish version of the book.

Mango, Abuela, and Me is also a sound-rich production, with plenty of atmospheric background noise, like Mia’s hamster’s squeaky wheel, the sizzle of frying empanadas, bus sounds and more, and the disc includes a track with page turn signals and one without. The background sounds have been carefully matched to the illustrations (Mia whispers over the sound of running water in an scene where the image shows her mother doing the dishes, for example), so although the book can be listened to on its on, it’s also an excellent read-along.

Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, read by Brian, Rosi, and Alisa Amador. 11 minutes. Live Oak Media, 2019.

Emily Calkins is the Readers’ Services Program Coordinator at the King County Library System. Emily reviews for Audiofile and currently a member of RUSA. She served two years on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults. She co-hosts KCLS’ podcast, The Desk Set, and whenever people ask how she reads so much, she tells them that she listens to most of her books. Catch her on Twitter @emily_calkins

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